Life with two Smalls and a fistful of daydreams

75Well, after the weekend of driving to Cambridgeshire and back, during today’s driving lesson I got told to get my test booked. So I did. 12th of May, here I come. Erk.

76Today was sponsored by this stuff. Sometimes I wish I drank coffee.

77As a surprise for the Smalls we had booked tickets to go and see Octonauts Live. I think Tori was a bit happy with this idea ;)

78Do not be deceived – this is not pizza, it is biscuits. Peanut butter and jam pinwheel biscuits to be exact.

79Pasta for lunch today – that red pesto was spicier than I was expecting. Very nice though.

80Arthur threw a tantrum and tried to take on his chest of drawers. The chest of drawers won. (Artie is fine, was just a tiny cut that bled enthusiastically.)

81Today was Seth’s christening and it was lovely to have a catch up with some of the family we don’t see very often and to have lots of cuddles with the star of the show. Tori and Arthur were very taken with their 2nd cousin. (The red here is my Mum’s t-shirt at the back… just in case you missed it lol.)

Gumwrappers and Goggles (The Tale of a Jet) by Winifred Barnum Newman

Illustrated by: Winifred Barnum Newman

Series: N/A

Published: Gnu Sky Publishing, 2014 (Orig. 1982)

Edition: Hardback

Print Length: 51 pages

Narrated By: N/A

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Classic Fiction, Picture Book

Where Did I Get It? I kindly received a copy from the publisher in return for this review.

Blurb: Back by popular demand, TJ Luv, from the classic 1982 Gumwrappers and Goggles, flies again with the help of his friend and mentor, Amelia, The Good Air Fairy, in a beautifully updated version of this beloved tale written and illustrated by noted Artist/Author Winifred Barnum-Newman

Opening Line(s):

Tucked away in the dimly lit corner of a huge airplane hangar was a slightly plump, gray jet plane. He was smaller than the big jets, and his drab color almost camouflaged him in the dark shadows of the corner.

My Review: Ever since our copy of this lovely reprint arrived in the post I have had the niggling feeling that I read it when I was little. I couldn’t remember the story exactly but it was familiar and the characters had that ‘old friend’ sort of feeling about them. It is entirely possible, being an ’88 baby, that I did – I’m sure copies of it will have been around as I was growing up – but if I didn’t then the fact that it felt so reassuring from the get-go can only be a good thing.

Originally published in 1982 and back again now, Gumwrappers and Goggles is a brilliant book. The balance of words to pictures is just right for Tori (aged 5½ years) – she can have a good go at reading it herself with a little help or it makes a good story to sit down and share together.

I love little TJ the jet – he is a very sweet character that Tori really engaged with. His development through the story is easy and natural as Amelia the fairy encourages him to find the magic inside himself and let his confidence shine through when it matters the most.

Every page of the book is illustrated either in full colour or with black and white sketches so there is plenty to talk about when you are reading together. The characters are charming and glowing with personality – even the sunshine has its own character as he watches TJ go about his days. Little things like this bring the story to life and add an extra sparkle to the pages – you can tell the author really cares about the story and the characters in it.

With a lovely message about believing in yourself and fighting for what you love, Gumwrappers and Goggles is just as relevant and fun for kids now as it was when it first hit the shelves in 1982.

My Rating: 4/5*



Ah, zombies. Those things that, if you ask my mother, are black and white and stripey. (We think she may have got them muddled up with zebras, but shhh…)

I can’t watch zombie films or TV programmes, they give me nightmares for weeks – even Shaun of the Dead and that’s barely even a ‘real’ zombie film. I’m just lame.

Books however, I can deal with books. I actually quite enjoy zombie stories – there’s something about the disconnect of reading about zombies instead of watching them that takes them from nightmare inducing to enjoyably creepy.

The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant is one of my favourite series about zombies – it is clever and witty and well thought through, deliciously terrifying and the characters are great. I have blogged about the books a few times before so they may well sound familiar. You should go read them, they are awesome. (Review of Feed and a post about the main character, Georgia)

I also quite enjoyed Tim Lebbon’s Coldbrook – more of a traditional horror story than the Newsflesh books and not quite as brilliant but still very much worth reading. (Review here.)

I think the reason zombies are such great ‘bad guys’ for scary stories is because they seem the most plausible out of all the undead creatures. Vampires are easy to scoff at, but with the forward movement of science and the human tendency to do things we know we shouldn’t, the idea of someone working out how to reanimate a corpse and getting it a bit wrong is entirely plausible. Or a modified-virus that renders people brainless but shuffling around in a deadly manner? Also scarily plausible. Or even something all the more gruesome – people’s hearts and/or minds being replaced with something such as clockwork, rendering them technically dead but still functioning to somebody’s orders. A great example of this at work is Liesel Schwarz’s A Clockwork Heart (Review here).

There are so many different ways you can explore the ideas behind zombie and they can be fun to play with – there are no rules for their cause, creation or overall behaviour that you ultimately HAVE to follow which means the variety of zombie stories out there is endless. There have even been zombie romance novels and adaptations of classics to involve zombies (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is going to be a movie soon, I kid you not) – they can be great fun as well as mind-numbingly terrifying. I had a go at writing a zombie story myself a couple of years ago, too. (I published it on my blog in three parts: Part I, Part II and Part III)

So yes, zombies. Generally not black and white striped in my experience, but still awesome.

The entries are in and a random winner has been selected to receive their very own copy of Spice. But who is it?


Attachment-1SIAN SHORT!!

Congratulations, Sian!

I will pass on your e-mail address to Scarlet and she will be in touch about getting your prize to you. Enjoy! :)

68Yep, today I totally forgot to take a picture until we finished dinner. I suck.

69Tea time. The onion rings were not as circular as I had hoped for ;)

70Done a bit of sorting and tidying today – the kids colouring and craft stuff is just about neat now. Almost.

71Arthur and I went for a walk today whilst Tori was at school and found two different parks to play in. Love this shot – Arthur looks like he’s flying an aeroplane!

72Red Nose Day was PJ day at school for Tori so Arthur joined in too, even though he wasn’t going to school.

73We went to visit Caius’s dad and wife this weekend near Ely. This was a busy jigsaw making session before dinner (at the circular table…)

74The best thing about visiting people – new parks to play in!

cbaYYA Fiction’

YA fiction (Young Adult fiction for those not familiar with the term) is one of my favourite genres. I’m fairly certain that I don’t fall into the ‘Young Adult’ category anymore (*sniff*) but that doesn’t mean I can’t read the books.

Indeed, people who look down their noses at others for reading YA (or even Children’s fiction) are just silly in my opinion. You should be able to read what you like and just because a book is written with a certain audience in mind (16-25 year olds in this case) doesn’t mean that other people won’t enjoy it or get something out of it.

YA fiction covers many of the same subjects as ‘Adult’ fiction does and the line between the two is often hard to distinguish. Yes, some YA fiction is ‘easy reading’ as an adult but by no means is that a rule for everything. Nor is it a bad thing – everybody enjoys an easy read every now and then.

Many of my favourite books are YA fiction – several of which I read after I was 25. A lot of the books featured in this Book Alphabet have been YA –  The Graceling Realm Series, The Daughter Of Smoke And Bone Trilogy and Forbidden are just three examples.

I love the diversity in the YA genre – there is everything from horror to romance via sci-fi and historical fiction – and the books often test boundaries and challenge you to think about yourself and other people in new ways. The target audience is of an age where they are finding their feet as individuals and really beginning to work out who they are so it opens the door to all manner of topics. There are some amazing YA novels tackling gender and sexual-orientation, religion and beliefs and many other ‘coming-of-age’ subjects that make you reconsider your own thoughts and ideas even as an adult. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley is a brilliant example of a YA novel that is historical fiction which tackles racism, religion and sexual-orientation head on – a novel I think a lot of adults could benefit from reading, not just teenagers.

I fairly recently introduced my Mum to some YA series in genres she wouldn’t normally touch with a barge-pole (fantasy and sci-fi) and she’s loved them. They aren’t full of themselves or trying to be better than anything else, they aren’t literary or super-clever but they are fun to read, engaging and entertaining which, really, is what you want from a book more often than not.

There are many gems hidden under the umbrella of YA fiction and yes, much like every other genre, there’s some rubbish out there but there is nothing to be ashamed of reading YA fiction when you aren’t a ‘young adult’ by definition.


Spice by Scarlet Smith

Illustrated by: N/A

Series: N/A

Published: Mischief, February 2015

Edition: eBook

Print Length: 200 pages

Narrated By: N/A

Genre: Contemporary, Erotica, Adult Fiction, Erotic Fiction, Romance

Where Did I Get It? I kindly received a copy for review from the author in return for this review.

Magazine writer Jess gets her latest freelance assignment – can anyone go from Vanilla to kinky in just fourteen days – and would they even want to?

Jess’ editor, Leyla wants to jump on the ‘mommy porn’ bandwagon, with a sexy blog, and she thinks Jess is just the girl to do it. Jess is given the List, which gives each sexy scenario and also the names and numbers of people who indulge in the weird and wonderful sex stuff, should she wish to ask their advice or expert opinion.

Jess’s latest freelance assignment is a “list” of sexy scenarios to try out. Her busy boyfriend Max is enthusiastic about the variety of sensual adventures. Until they reach the “threesome” option. Max is keen, but if they go too far will they risk everything?

Opening Line(s):

Jess’s alarm clock buzzed, waking her from a fabulously filthy dream about Max, her boyfriend of three years.

My Review: When I read the blurb of Spice I knew immediately that I wanted to read it. It had potential to be really fun and also to be a bit less flimsy than a lot of erotic fiction where the characters don’t require personalities and the story is literally just ‘let’s have sex’. Don’t get me wrong, this story is quite a lot of ‘let’s have sex’ but there’s a structure and a bit more of a point to it than in many examples of erotica I have read.

The story follows Jess who is a fairly normal young woman – attractive but not crazy super model hot – with all the typical hangups about her body and life and her boyfriend Max – again, a normal kind of guy – attractive but not unrealistically so. They are not married but the prospect isn’t off the cards, they’re in a stable, long-term relationship and when Jess gets given the blog assignment they are a realistic combination of excited and nervous about the prospect. It’s a big step deciding to put your sex life on the internet for all the world (and your mother!!) to read, especially if it’s going to start wandering into the world of kinky.

The balance between Jess ‘researching’ each item on the list by talking to people who are into whatever it is created a great build-up to each one and let her explore her feelings on each topic. Some she was immediately excited by and looked forward to trying, others made her apprehensive – this made her easy to relate to as a character. I’m sure most of us would experience similar emotions when faced with her situation – I particularly liked the scene where she had to buy sex toys from a sex shop and had the downright fear and embarrassment that she was being judged on her purchases. I get that when I’m buying the food shop in a supermarket never mind if I was having to buy multi-coloured cock rings and a porn film!

The story kept its realism by there being a couple of things on the list that Jess and Max weren’t keen on – they tried stuff out and decided it wasn’t for them and in at least one case just flat out refused to do it because they just didn’t want to at all. Again, this gave them a bit of depth as characters and built their relationship as they talked things through.

There was a bit of conflict and drama at the end so the story felt complete and didn’t get flat and boring like some erotic fiction can when there’s nothing but sex scene after sex scene. The story was simple but satisfying and felt like it had a point which was great.

The sex itself was well written and raunchy without being ridiculous or weird – it’s a pretty steamy ride and there is A LOT of sex. Unsurprising with such a long list to get through in a fortnight, really. ;)

I don’t often give out five star reviews to erotic fiction – but Spice had that sparkle that so many others lack. It had a personality and it left me smiling at the end – and not in a ‘thank heavens that’s over’ kind of way.

My Rating: 5/5*


If you like the sound of Spice then lucky for you Scarlet Smith is letting me give away a copy of the eBook to one of you lovely lot. All you have to do is leave me a comment on the bottom of this post to be entered into the draw – a random winner will be selected at 7:30pm Tuesday 17th March 2015. Good luck!!





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,606 other followers