I was recently gifted 2 pairs of earrings and a bracelet from Karagozlum handmade jewellery on Etsy/instagram. The three items I received came in a organza bag and each item was wrapped separately in cellophane. This is ideal especially if you are ordering items for Christmas, birthdays or any other special occasions.
I have let my ears close up so I don’t wear earrings so these will be given to family and friends as Christmas presents,which I know they will love. I cannot wait to show the bracelet off as this is something that I can wear on a daily basis.
Prices start from £3.99 and include free delivery and can be purchased from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Karagozlum.These prices are so good as the jewellery is all handmade and the pieces are unique and also from buying from Karagozlum you are also supporting a small business which is something I like to do. I have now bookmarked this website into my favourites and I will be buying items of jewellery from this website in the future.
I was recently gifted 3 soaps from Mariana London Soap,as soon as these arrived through the door I could smell them through the packaging and they smelt amazing, I couldn’t decide which one to use first. The soaps I received were:
Lavender and May Chang Soap
Lemongrass and Peppermint Soap
Rose Geranium and Bergamot Soap
The soaps start off from £2.99 and 10p from every bar of soap or bottle of bath oil sold goes to the Streets of London Charity. These soaps would make lovely gifts for people and I’m even thinking about buying some as stocking fillers as they come gift wrapped.
The soaps contain only natural ingredients, no palm oil and plastic-free packaging, there’s nothing artificial in these soaps, just pure natural ingredients (olive oil, coconut oil and shea butter) and essential oils. It’s all completely handmade and hand wrapped.
This week I was gifted these beautiful chocolates and bonbons from Tiger Lilly Chocolates. Tiger Lilly sell artisan handmade bonbons and sweet treats. They are based in Thirsk which is quite local to me with me living in Middlesbrough/Redcar however they also offer delivery nationwide.
All Bonbons are sold in boxes of 6,12,18 & 24 and are supplied in boxes available with a clear or closed lid.They currently sell 12 different Chocolate Bonbons flavours and they can be mixed and matched for all box sizes. I was sent a box with mixed flavours. The flavours include:
1.Strawberry Pate de Fruit & Dark Chocolate Mint Ganache in a decorative Dark Chocolate Shell
2. Coconut, Lime & Dark Rum Ganache in a decorative Milk Chocolate Shell
3. Sea Salt Caramel & Milk Chocolate Ganache in White Chocolate Shell
4. Parma Violet Gin & White Chocolate Ganache in Purple Chocolate Shell
5.Pistachio & Dark Chocolate Ganache in Milk Chocolate Shell
6. Raspberry & Rose Water Pate de Fruit in Milk Chocolate Shell
7. White Chocolate Lemon & Lemon Thyme Sherbet Ganaches in Dark Chocolate Shell
8.Passionfruit & Vodka White Chocolate Ganache in Dark Chocolate Shell
9. Mango & Stem Ginger Ganache in Caramelised White Chocolate Shell
10. Caramelised White Chocolate Ganache & Macadamia Praline In Dark Chocolate Shell10.
11. Apple Pate de Fruit & Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Ganache In White Chocolate Shell
12. Blackberry & Vanilla White Chocolate Ganache & Hazelnut Feuilletine In White
I received one of each flavour in a box, I didn’t know which one to try first as they all sounded so nice and looked equally as nice. I love the colours used to create the chocolates and with them coming in a gift box they would make lovely gifts for people. I will be buying these in future for birthday presents or even Christmas presents. My favourite flavour was the Parma Violet Gin & White Chocolate Ganache in Purple Chocolate Shell. This is because I’m a huge gin lover and love trying out all the new flavours. A box of 6 bonbons retails at £7.65, a box of 12 £11.05, a box of 18 £17.00 and a box of 24 retails at £20.40.
I also received a bag of Milk Chocolate Aero Pieces coated in Belgian Milk, Dark & White Chocolate. These were so good I practically ate the bag in one whole sitting. Im a fan of bubbly chocolate anyways as It just melts in your mouth, again these would make lovely presents as come in a clear bag with a ribbon tied around the top which gives them the finishing touch.
These chocolates are sold by weight, 175g will cost you £2.97, 250g £4.25, 325g £5.31 and 400g £5.95. These would make perfect stocking fillers.
I have recently been given the opportunity to try and review Banhoek Chilli oil. I use a lot of oil whilst cooking so I took the opportunity to try the oil out.
Banhoek Chilli oil started out as a home experiment in Ken Kinsey Quick’s family home and the product was launched in early 2018. Ken teamed up with a former colleague Ed Morse to launch Banhoek Chilli Oil (UK) Ltd as sole importer and distributor in the UK in early 2019. The oil can be purchased from Amazon and also through http://www.thefoodmarket.com.
The oil is cholesterol free and is low in saturated fats and is high in omega 3 and omega 6. Meaning the oil is a healthier alternative to some oils which is great for me as im trying to eat a little bit healthier.
The oil can be used as a drizzle over steaks before they are put under the grill, with fish, eggs,seafood,as a dressing with pasta and with your favourite pizza. However I use it to try my mince in when making a Spaghetti Bolognese to give the dish that little bit of a kick.
When the bottles that I have been gifted run out I will certainly think about buying this product again. The oil retails at £8.50 on Amazon or for an additional £1 you can buy a bottle that is wrapped which would make the perfect gift for someone who loves chilli or who loves experimenting whilst cooking.
I recently had the opportunity to be part of the publicity tour for the release of A Shot in the Dark so I grabbed the opportunity this is something I wouldn’t normally do but I really enjoyed being part of this . The book can be purchased from http://www.reddogpress.co.uk/shop or from Amazon . The book is written by Neil Richards and Matthew Costello.
About the Authors
Co-authors Neil Richards (based in the UK) and Matthew Costello (based in the US), have been writing together since the mid-90s, creating innovative television, games and best-selling books. Together, they have worked on major projects for the BBC, PBS, Disney Channel, Sony, ABC, Eidos, and Nintendo to name but a few.
Their transatlantic collaboration led to the globally best-selling mystery series, Cherringham, which has also been a top-seller as audiobooks read by Neil Dudgeon.
Mydworth Mysteries is their brand new series, set in 1929 Sussex, England, which takes readers back to a world where solving crimes was more difficult — but also sometimes a lot more fun.
Below is the books blurb.
Sussex, England, 1929. Mydworth is a sleepy English market town just 50 miles from London. But things are about to liven up there considerably, when young Sir Harry Mortimer returns home from his government posting in Cairo, with his unconventional American wife – Kat Reilly. No sooner have the two arrived, when a jewel robbery occurs at Harry’s aunt’s home – Mydworth Manor – ending in one of the thieves being shot…and killed. The local police are baffled by the case. But Harry and Kat have an edge in the hunt for the second thief: not only do they have certain useful “skills” they’ve both picked up in service of King, President and Country, they also have access to parts of English high society that your average bobby can’t reach. Because this Shot in the Dark…could have come from anywhere.
I have also been provided an abstract from the book.
PROLOGUE SUSSEX, ENGLAND, 1929.
LADY LAVINIA FITZHENRY turned the page of the novel she was reading – the latest from the American, Hemingway. Always fun to read a book written by someone you’ve met – and even shared more than a few drinks with. Sitting up in bed – Mydworth Manor so peaceful, the staff below all quiet – to read like this was such a pleasure. She had brought a glass of port with her to bed – now sadly gone – and certainly it was late enough to think about turning the light off. Plenty to do in the busy days ahead, the house soon to be filled with weekend guests down from London. Gossip. Music. Cocktails every evening before dinner. What fun! She placed the book on her bedside table and put the light out. The bedroom now in darkness. She started to drift off, plans running through her mind. But then… A noise. She opened her eyes. Another sound: a rattle. Not close, clearly somewhere down the wide hallway. A sound that, well, perhaps a door or a window might make in response to a stiff breeze. Except this was a perfectly still night. Barely a breeze. There it was again. The rattle louder. Lavinia had never been one to sit and wait. Her response to fear throughout her entire life had remained exactly the same. If you are afraid of something, you face it. She put the light on, and, in one quick move, slid out from under the covers, slipped on her dressing gown, and headed out onto the landing.
LAVINIA STOOD motionless outside her bedroom, listening. The sounds seemed to have stopped. Slowly she moved along the dark hallway, ears straining. Past the grand staircase that led down to the entrance, where she saw the glow of the entryway light that was kept on all evening. Warm, yellow, reassuring. Down the hallway, until she came to the row of bedrooms that would house all her guests in just a few days. She stopped. There was nothing but quiet. Clearly time to go back to bed, she thought. She turned. There was a crack. The sharp, brittle sound of something snapping in the room directly to her right. Door shut. Secure – as it should be. These rooms were cleaned and prepared days ago. Lavinia grabbed the doorknob – cold to the touch. A twist, an audible click, the door opened – and she slowly entered the dark room. With her eyes already adjusted to the dark, she didn’t need light to see that all was in order here. The door that led into the dressing room stood half open. She felt – the barest sense of it – a cold draught coming from the room. A chill that shouldn’t be there. Taking a deep breath, she grasped the door handle, pulled the door wide – and entered the room, to see… the window wide open. She hurried over, ready to slam it shut, and end this late-night adventure. As she started to pull the window closed, her eyes were drawn for a second to the lawn as the moon momentarily found a gap in the clouds. And she stopped. Frozen. A figure was walking slowly away from the house towards the woods. As she watched, the figure stopped. Turned. Looked up at her… Lavinia’s heart, at peace only seconds ago, now pounded. She backed away from the window, thoughts racing, searching for explanations that did not come. She took a deep breath – and then stepped back to the window again, eyes straining. But the figure had gone. As if it had never been there. And now, as she peered into the darkness, a feeling of foreboding came over her. A feeling that this weekend wasn’t going to bring fun at all…
1. AN ENGLISH HOMECOMING
KAT REILLY WATCHED her husband Harry shield his eyes from the morning sun as he studied the unloading process of the cross-channel ferry at Newhaven dock. She knew him well enough to see that he was concerned. The Pride of Sussex had berthed an hour late, and, in the frenzied hurry to turn the ship around, Kat had already seen one precious cargo slip from its net and smash on the quayside. While the steamer belched smoke into the sky, hordes of trucks, horses and carts, and hand-barrows swarmed around the dock-side, as passengers called instructions, and customs men tried to intervene. So much for all the English politeness and decorum she’d been expecting to see on this, her first trip to Britain! Though, in truth, Sir Harry Mortimer seemed as ever to typify the calm, unruffled English gentleman. Tall, slim, his black hair longer than she’d ever known it, jacket slung nonchalantly over one shoulder, white cotton shirt sporting a dashing red tie. All he needed was a tennis racquet to complete the look. Or should that be – a cricket bat? He turned back to her. “Hmm… just going to have a quick word with those chaps over there. Make sure they, er…” She grinned at that. “And how will that go?” Harry – with one of his great smiles – nodded. “You think they won’t welcome my advice?” “With open arms, I’m sure. That or clenched fists.” “That is my car they’re about to drop on the quay.” “Your car?” “Ah, right. Sorry – old habits. I mean our car. Thing is, she may not be a Bugatti, but that Alvis is damned precious to me.” “Good luck. Back in New York nobody argues with the longshoremen.” “Well, I fancy we’re a tad more civilised over here.” “Civilised? Nine o’clock and I’m still waiting for that coffee you promised.” “How about we stop in at a local hostelry en route and celebrate my return to the motherland, and your first visit, with a slap-up breakfast?” “Slap-up?” “Forgot you don’t quite speak the lingo yet. Means ‘large’. The works!” “Sounds delicious.” He grinned, and she watched him walk over to a man on the dock who was dressed in blue overalls, cap on his head. From his stance, hands on hips, the man looked as if he might be the foreman – or whatever they called the guy in charge over here. She saw Harry gesture to where, only now, their car – that beautiful and so-sleek example of English hardware – was starting to rise out of the ship’s hold, swinging perilously on ropes and chains. The man in the cap nodded. No smiles there. But she guessed Harry was doing something she had seen him do so often. A few words here and there, and suddenly people wanted to help him. Doubtful he introduced himself as ‘Sir’, though Kat wondered whether, with the dock workers, any of that ‘Lord and Lady’ stuff would carry much weight. Harry walked back. “All tickety-boo. Er, I mean, sorted. Just explained to him what was hiding under those tarps. Asked if they had ever handled a car like that.” “And?” “Seems he rather prefers a Bentley. Rolls Royce at a push. Though he did say if I was offering him a drive, he’d happily take it for a spin.” “Funny guy, hmm?” “Salt of the earth.” “Well, me – I’d just slip him some money.” “Oh, see, there you go! That would never work here. An upstanding professional like that? He’d take it as a proper insult.” Kat doubted that. Ten years posted to American embassies from Istanbul to Tokyo had taught her one thing – a handful of dollars never failed to make the world run more smoothly. She turned to see the Alvis roadster steadily being lowered. Slowly, she was glad to note. And – now – nothing to be alarmed about. She turned back to Harry, watching their steamer trunks being off-loaded, to be transported to Mydworth by truck. Lorry – not truck, she thought. And then they would drive to their new home. “New”, at least for Kat, but not to Harry. Mydworth: the small town where he grew up; a world he knew – but had been away from for so long. Suddenly Harry wasn’t checking the unloading. “Hmm,” he grunted. “What?” she said, as he turned to look over to where the cars and taxis pulled up to pick up passengers. Sitting there, a sleek sedan. Not a cab, but a very serious looking vehicle. And stepping out of it, now looking this way, a man crisply dressed in what looked like a chauffeur’s uniform. “Something wrong?” she said to Harry. “Don’t know. But I think we’re about to find out.” The driver held a white envelope in his hands. He walked over directly – even urgently – to where she and Harry stood.
HARRY ALWAYS PRIDED himself on having extremely good instincts. They’d served him well back in ’18 in the skies over Belgium. Also, in his various postings abroad for the Foreign Office. A few times they’d helped him avoid getting hurt. Once even killed. His every instinct told him that the envelope the man carried was unlikely to be good news. “Sir Harry Mortimer?” Less a question than a confirmation. Harry gave a quick nod back. He felt Kat looking at this scene as well. He guessed she had to be thinking: Well, what is this about? The chauffeur presented the envelope to Harry. “Urgent from Whitehall, sir. I’m to wait.” Harry took the envelope, giving Kat a half grin. “Wait? For what?” He opened the tucked but unsealed envelope and removed a single piece of paper. He recognised the crest on the paper, the address. The message pithily brief, but also direct. “Harry… what is it?” A bit of alarm in her voice there, he noted. As they had grown closer to docking at Newhaven, Harry had reassured her about their new life in his homeland. “No more running around for me,” he’d said. “Nice quiet office job in town, driving a desk a couple of days a week, lunch at the club, home by five, no harum-scarum, hmm?” To which she had said: “Doubt that.” He took a deep breath, even as he started to wonder if there was any getting around what this letter wanted him to do. No solution appeared as he turned to face Kat directly.
KAT COULD SEE from Harry’s eyes that he wasn’t happy. Took only seconds to read the words in the letter, but – whatever the message – her husband… not pleased. “Urgent meeting. Bit of a flap on, and it seems they want me to attend.” “Really? When?” she asked. Though – with the chauffeur and limo standing by – she could figure out the answer to that one. “Right now, apparently,” he waved the offending letter. “Uses the word ‘crisis’ here. Chaps in the office usually show some restraint when referring to such things, so…” “Now?” She glanced back just as their Alvis touched down on the dock. Two men began removing the heavy tarps that had been used to protect it during its journey. A hint of the car’s racing green colour caught the sunlight. “We’re supposed to drive to our new house together, yes? Trucks bringing everything else right behind us.” “I am still technically, um – you know – a servant of His Majesty’s Government.” “Yes, and due to report in a few weeks, and even then, not a full-time position.” Harry’s eyes shifted right. His beleaguered look made Kat almost withdraw her protest. Almost. “Tell this charming man here that you and I have things to do. You can see them tomorrow.” And then Harry did something that always cut through the slightest disagreement they had. He took a step towards her. Bit of a smile back, not full on, but so warm – just like the night they met at that New Year’s Eve reception in the British Embassy in Cairo. He put a hand on her shoulder. And for that moment, there was just the two of them on that dock alone. “I know. But if it was you? Back in New York? Some chap from the State Department?” He paused, hand still on her shoulder – and Kat knew how this had to play out. “What would you do? What could you do?” And so slowly – only now rewarding him with a smile of her own – she patted his hand on her shoulder. “Harry. It’s okay. I understand. Duty calls.” “Exactly. King and country. Ours not to reason why. And don’t worry, we’ll take this fellow’s car into town, and I’ll get Alfie to drive us back here as soon as the meeting is done with.” Alfie – someone else from Harry’s life she hadn’t met yet. His – what did they call them? – “batman” during the war. Someone who, Harry said, was fiercely loyal, and would do absolutely anything for him, even arranging things for what was going to be their London pied-à-terre. “Few hours at the most, then straight back here. Pick up our car, and off we go, crisis over with a bit of luck.” That was the plan offered by Harry. But Kat knew it never was her style to sit around waiting, killing time. Not when there were things to be done. “No,” she said, warm smile still on her face. “I have another idea.” Harry’s turn to look surprised. “You do?” And Kat nodded.
I actually cannot wait to read the rest of the book this is one I would love to purchase in the future.
I was recently gifted this plate by Marianne’s Plate on instagram (https://www.instagram.com/mariannesplate/) to write/review on my blog . I’m always looking on ways to eat healthier, lose weight and eat the correct portion sizes as I pile my plate high at times as I think that there isn’t enough food on my plate and ill still be hungry afterwards so I took the opportunity
The plate is split into measured sections to help control your portion sizes. This will help you make simple lifestyle changes that will make your diet healthier and help you lose weight. Included with my plate was a handy little guide to help using your plate a rewarding experience when used in conjunction with a healthy diet.
1/2 of the plate is for salad/vegetables. This section of the plate has really helped me as I don’t think I get enough salad/vegetables into my diet and this was something I was looking to increase.
1/4 of the plate is for poultry, meat or fish. Aim for 2 portions of fish per week. Before using this plate and guide I was lucky if I would eat one portion of fish per week so this has really helped.
1/4 of the plate is for pasta, rice or potatoes. Aim for whole grains as a healthier option. Also remember bread will count as one of your carbohydrates when using the plate and is not an addition to your meal. This has helped me a lot as I eat a lot of bread in my diet and I always add bread to my meals for instance if I am having a spag Bol I will have the spaghetti and also have garlic bread, however when using the plate I should only have the spaghetti or the garlic bread.
I look forward to continuing to use this plate and can’t wait to see if I end up losing any weight with it. I have only been using this plate a week but can already see changes to my diet by using it, it really makes you think about what you are eating and your portion sizes. These plates can be purchased from: https://www.mariannesplate.com and currently come in 3 different designs. They are currently priced at £8.45 – Melamine plate and £11.45 – China plate. I like that the one I have been gifted has examples of names and foods that belong in that section this has allowed me to try new foods and made me want to try new foods.
The guide included was really useful and gives handy little tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There isn’t much reading which I really like and you can quickly find the information you are looking for.
Here are some final pictures of the plate I have taken.
Whitby is one of my favourite places on earth to visit as the whole place is just so picturesque. I visited Whitby with my partner and my mum and dad on Sunday. We decided to visit as we had double celebrations, my dad was celebrating his birthday along with him and my mum celebrating their wedding anniversary (my dad always says they got married on his birthday so he would never have an excuse to forget their wedding anniversary.) The weather was glorious there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so we thought we may as well make the most of the weather and the rare occasion we were all off work at the same time.
We parked on the west cliff which cost us £7 for all day parking which isn’t too bad. We then headed straight for the Abbey and the 199 steps. The Abbey is famous because many people think that Dracula was buried here however they forget this is fiction. You can see the whole of the Whitby from the top and is a perfect place to take photographs, below are some of the ones I took while at the top of the Abbey.
Next on the agenda was a boat trip out to sea, along the harbour and to the coast of Sandsend. This trip lasted 20-25 mins and was priced at £3 per person, under 5’s free. I thoroughly ended the boat trip as this is something I have never done previously while visiting Whitby. The seas were calm and it was rather relaxing. We also managed to catch a glimpse of a seal while out at sea. It looks like it had just caught its lunch as it was bobbing up and down on the water with a seagull in its mouth.
We then enjoyed some fish and chips for our lunch which is a must when visiting the seaside. There are many fish and chip restaurants and takeaways to choose from in Whitby. We chose to buy ours from Terrys. We paid £26 for 4 portions of cod and chips which I personally think is reasonably priced. A stroll along the pier was needed before heading back to the car. On the Pier you can visit the Lighthouse and take in the beautiful sea views. The walk along the pier was such a lovely end to a lovely day with some very special people.
I was recently gifted the Gengigel mouth rinse and oral gel from Gengigel (https://www.gengigel.co.uk). As a sufferer of oral gum disease this products have been a lifesaver for me.
Usage: After brushing rinse for 1-2 minutes, 3-4 times daily.
This restores healthy gums- can be used for treatment for gum related problems such as bleeding gums, soreness and inflammation.
This also helps maintain a healthy mouth.
Suitable for adults and children 3 years and older with appropriate supervision. Do not eat or drink for 30 minutes following use. Use as necessary, (or as directed by a dental professional) but particularly before meals to ensure maximum comfort while eating.
Usage: Massage gently into affected area 3-4 times daily.
Suitable for adults and children 3 years and older with appropriate supervision. Do not eat or drink for 30 minutes following use. Use as necessary, (or as directed by a dental professional) but particularly before meals to ensure maximum comfort while eating.
Gengigel can assist with the following oral conditions:
Mouth ulcers (recurrent aphthous stomatitis)
Post-surgery gum trauma
These products have helped me with my gum disease by reducing mouth ulcers, keeping bleeding gums to a minimum and reducing the amount of pain I have been in with my mouth. I will be using these products again in the future and will be ordering as soon as possible. I would recommend these products to people who suffer with any of the issues listed above.
A strange case scheduled for the Denazification Court lands on the desk of an American psychiatrist currently serving in Germany, Dr. Hoffman.
A former Auschwitz guard, Franz Dahler, is set to appear in court, and he has requested to bring the most unexpected witness to testify in his defense – one of his former inmates and current wife, Helena.
As soon as one of the newly emerging Nazi hunters and former Auschwitz inmate, Andrej Novák, recognizes the officer’s name, he demands a full investigation of Dahler’s crimes, claiming that the former SS man was not only abusing Helena in the camp but is also using her as a ploy to escape prosecution.
Silent, subdued, and seemingly dependent on her husband’s every word, Helena appears to be a classic victim of abuse, and possibly more of an aid to the prosecution instead of the defense.
As she begins giving her testimony, Dr. Hoffman finds himself more and more confused at the picture that gradually emerges before his eyes; a perpetrator is claimed to be the savior and the accuser, the criminal.
The better Dr. Hoffman gets to know each participant, the more he begins to question himself; whether he’s facing a most unimaginable love story, or a new and still-nameless psychological disorder affecting the very manner in which Helena sees the events of the past.
Partially based on a true story, this deeply psychological, haunting novel will take you back in time to the heart of Auschwitz and post-war Germany, and will keep you guessing the true motive of each side.
Ellie Midwood is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. She owes her interest in the history of the Second World War to her grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling her about his experiences on the frontline when she was a young girl. Growing up, her interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining her BA in Linguistics, Ellie decided to make writing her full-time career and began working on her first full-length historical novel, “The Girl from Berlin.” Ellie is continuously enriching her library with new research material and feeds her passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents.
In her free time, Ellie is a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.
The blanket can be used as a normal blanket or can be plugged in and used as an electric blanket which is perfect for them cold winter evenings. I have used it both ways but I do prefer using it as the heated blanket however I think in the future I will end up using this more frequently as a normal blanket especially when watching a film in front of the television.
You can set how many hours you want the blanket on for this ranges from 1-12 hours however iv only had this on for a maximum of 2 hours and then iv turned it off as I was too warm. The blanket has been a godsend to me as I live in a flat with no heating so it’s always cold in the winter months so this does the job of warming me through.
The blanket measures 130 x 180cm this is a perfect size as fits onto my double bed, the blanket was priced at £54.99 which I think is quite reasonable as this included delivery and it arrived sooner than expected. I would recommend this to my friends , family and followers as I think its worth the money.
I have been asked to host a blog tour for T.S Hunter for their upcoming book,Crazy for You. Below is the blurb from the book:
THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE NEVER RUNS SMOOTH
It’s 1987, and Soho is in the grip of another hot summer. While working part-time in The Red Lion, Joe finds himself agreeing to help a notorious gangster search for her missing girlfriend.
Antonia The Gecko Lagorio is daughter to the ruthless but ageing gang boss, Tony The Lizard Lagorio. When her girlfriend, Charlotte Fenwick, goes missing, Antonia turns to Joe for help, believing her to have been kidnapped by a rival gang.
Charlotte Fenwick is daughter to multi-millionaire, Charles Fenwick—who also happens to be one of Freddie Gillespie’s bigger clients. Keen to keep any hint of a scandal out of the public eye, Charles Fenwick had already asked Freddie to recruit Russell and Joe to help him find his daughter discreetly.
With both of them on the case, Joe and Russell find themselves trying to stop a turf war between the two rival gangs while uncovering all manner of dark secrets about the missing heiress and her troubled life.
Meanwhile Freddie Gillespie has a run in with an old foe that could see him lose both his job and his relationship with Russell.
As it was my birthday on Monday, me and my boyfriend decided to have a couple of nights away together and we decided to go to Blackpool Sunday-Tuesday.
We stayed in The Lumada Hotel http://www.thelumada.co.uk which was reasonably priced and cost us £100 for the 2 of us for the 2 nights, which worked out at £25pppn this included breakfast. I would stay here again as it was central to everything we needed, hosts were lovely and went out of their way to help you.
On our first night we enjoyed a stroll along the illuminations, this is something I haven’t done for a number of years, its just so magical and takes me back to my childhood, the illuminations last for 6.2 miles (10 km) so we didn’t manage to see them all however we could have done If we had went on a tram.
On Monday (My Birthday) we spent the day at the Pleasure Beach,i really enjoyed this and we went on the majority of the rides again this took me back to my childhood as some of the rides have remained the same but there have been new ones added which I had never been on before. I enjoyed the whole day and the experience and would love to visit again. We booked our wristbands online a week before visiting, these cost us £25 each whereas on the day if we hadn’t of booked these would have cost us £39 each. The wristbands were value for money as it allowed us to go on the rides all day long and as many times as we wanted.
I really enjoyed my few days away in Blackpool and me and my boyfriend have already said we would love to visit again as there is so much that we haven’t seen or done, we would love to visit the Blackpool Tower ,Madame Tussauds,Sealife Centre and the Blackpool Tower Dungeons.
I was recently asked to write a blog post about Deborah Serani’s new book The Ninth session, I was also given the opportunity to interview Deborah and ask her some questions about her and the book, these can be seen at the end of this post.
About the Author
Deborah Seraniis an award-winning author and psychologist who has been in practice for thirty years. She is also a professor at Adelphi University and is a go-to media expert for psychological issues. Her interviews can be found in Newsday, Psychology Today, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Associated Press, and affiliate radio programs at CBS and NPR, among others. Dr. Serani has also been a technical advisor for the NBC television show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The recurring character, Judge D. Serani, was named after her.
Title: THE NINTH SESSION: A PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE NOVEL Author: Deborah Serani Publisher: TouchPoint Press Pages: 190 Genre: Psychological Suspense/Thriller
Dr. Alicia Reese, a recent widow and a CODA – a child of Deaf Adults, takes on a new patient. Lucas Ferro reveals the reason for his consultation is that he wasn’t really open with his previous therapist. After gaining Reese’s trust, he shares aspects of his life that are clearly disturbing – experiences that create anxiety and panic, but also reveal horrifying psychopathology. Instead of referring Ferro elsewhere, Reese chooses to continue working with him, feeling reinvigorated by the challenge of his case.
As sessions progress, and Ferro’s disclosures become more menacing, Reese finds herself wedged between the cold hard frame of professional ethics and the integrity of personal truth – and learns just how far she’s willing to go, willing to risk and willing to lose to do the right thing.
The light slowly filtered in from the other room as I opened the door. This was the last moment of the unknown, where two strangers meet and a life story begins.
Most times, I’ve no idea which seat in the waiting room a new patient will choose. Sometimes, though, I can make a good guess from the initial phone call. Usually, the depressed patient, feeling weak with fatigue, sits in the first seat available, whereas the anxious person, eager to feel relief, selects the seat closest to the consultation room.
Not that it really matters. There are only six chairs in my waiting room.
“Mr. Ferro?” I rolled my neck around the waiting room. Then checked my watch. Eight o’clock on the dot. Seeing no one, I pressed my lips together. Did I make the appointment for eight or eight fifteen?
I left the door ajar, walked to my desk, and re-checked my schedule. I slid my finger down the Monday, June 5th grid in my appointment book to the eight o’clock hour, and there was his name: Lucas Ferro. He’d be my last appointment of the night.
Okay, it’s for eight o’clock.
Maybe he’s running late.
While I waited, I reviewed my notes from my telephone conversation with Ferro. I opened the crisp manila file and heard a shuffling, then a sputtering hiss of air in the waiting room. I turned toward the sound, unsure of what it was. A magazine falling on the floor? The air conditioning shutting off? I listened for another moment or two and, hearing nothing more, went back to my desk. My office suite was a beautiful setting and one I didn’t mind spending so many hours in. The waiting room, a spacious rectangle, was lined with several Ficus trees and exotic plants, paintings from local artists, and burled wood furniture contemporary in design. The thickly upholstered leather chairs were caramel in color, and the teal-flecked carpet stretched from wall to wall. The vaulted ceiling housed three skylights, flooding the room with an abundance of natural light. My consultation office was just as large, and there was ample room for my desk, two chairs, and the proverbial psychoanalyst’s couch–and of course, an etched nameplate on the door: Alicia Reese, Ph.D. Psychologist. Across from the built-in bookcase was a long picture window overlooking Oyster Bay. At this time of night, the evening sunset gleamed across the water, layering the inlet with a silvery orange hue. I turned my attention back to the Ferro file, and I heard it again.
Hissing sounds of air.
“What is that?” I asked aloud with growing curiosity.
I’d been working in this building fifteen years and knew all its creaks, thuds, and mechanical whirrs. But I couldn’t decipher these sounds. They weren’t familiar.
I tapped my pocket, confirming the presence of my panic remote. In all the years I’d been in practice, I never found a need to use it.
I got up from my desk and moved toward the door that led to the waiting room. An emerging sense of uneasiness took hold. I heard a hollow voice say something I couldn’t catch and then trail off.
I jolted forward, took out the panic alarm, and held my thumb on the button, ready to send the signal. I entered the waiting room but saw no one.
Again it happened.
The bang of something hitting the ground.
Then a rush of air.
I focused my vision on the sounds, turning my gaze toward the far right corner of the reception room.
The darkened bathroom.
I walked in willed steps toward the nearly closed door. Drawing in a deep breath, I opened it all the way with a poke of my index finger.
There, standing against the corner wall, was the shadow of Lucas Ferro having a panic attack.
“The tile…it’s cool,” Ferro said, breathing raggedly like a drowning swimmer.
Hissing sounds of air.
“It’s okay, Mr. Ferro.” I followed his frenzied movements with my eyes. “I’m gonna step away and give you some room.”
I flicked on the bathroom light as I moved away. As the room brightened, I saw Ferro’s face. It was sweaty and chalk white. His black hair flopped in wet patches across his forehead, and his eyes were narrow slits of blue. His body moved in spasms, halting and then starting again.
Ferro tugged at his shirt collar as he drew in rapid breaths. Watching him, I felt the anxiety leave my body and the return of my clinical posture. This was a crisis, and I went into crisis mode.
“I want you to listen to my voice as you take in a deep, slow breath.”
Ferro lifted his shoulders, straightening himself from the stooped position against the wall. His knees bent several times as if unable to bear his own weight. Then, all at once, his body buckled toward the sink, but he anchored his two hands on the porcelain base to steady himself. As he drew in a series of deep breaths and huffed them coarsely through his mouth, his feet wobbled and slapped the tiled floor.
“You’re doing great,” I said. “You’re gonna be just fine.”
Soon, color began to return to his face.
“I want you to slow your breathing even more. Like this.” I modeled the technique for him.
Ferro followed my instructions and formed a slower breathing pattern, ending the hyperventilation that gripped him. Bit by bit, he raised himself to a solid standing posture. A self-conscious impulse took over as he saw his reflection in the mirror. Ferro slicked back his hair with his fingers, smoothed his clothing, and blotted the sweat from his face with a swipe of his arm. Then he smiled at me weakly.
The crisis was over.
As he found his way back from this acute attack, I realized there was no longer a need for me to be holding the panic alarm. I tucked it back into my pocket. I waited for what I thought was a good moment to ask my very first question.
“Can you move out of the bathroom?”
Ferro nodded his head and walked toward the reception area. Upon moving into the waiting room, his eyes sought my approval to sit down.
“Yes, of course,” I said.
He slumped into the chair and tilted his head back against the wall. I moved a few seats away and waited for him to find a sense of balance.
In the long stretch of silence that followed, I studied him in sidelong glances, trying not to be obvious. He was young, probably mid-to-late twenties, and his dark blue eyes glowed with intensity. He was dressed in a green and white Abercrombie & Fitch shirt. There was a moose logo on the left chest pocket. His slacks were washed in a dark tan hue, and he wore no socks with his deck shoes. On his wrist, a flash of gold—a watch with chunky links. He was vulnerable right now, but as the panic faded, I noticed he was muscular in build. And tall. Six feet or more.
We remained quiet in the room for a while. I was always good with silence. It was a comfortable experience.
“I’m worried you won’t be able to help me,” Ferro said finally. His voice was dry, cracking slightly.
“What makes you say that?”
He was silent as he regarded me. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to find the right words or still seized by panic. The silence stretched as he continued looking at the ceiling, occasionally rubbing his hands over his eyes and face. He cleared his throat several times, fighting the dryness.
“Let me get you some water,” I said, getting up. I filled a paper cup with cold tap water in the bathroom.
Ferro drank it down in one large gulp. He crumpled the cup and rolled the shapeless form between his hand and fingers.
“Been in therapy before. Nothing’s helped,” he spoke again.
“But you’re here tonight. Something made you feel hopeful.”
Ferro said nothing but shifted restlessly in his seat. I gave him a few moments before leaning forward to talk again. Just then, he stopped moving altogether and turned his gaze toward me. It was a searching look, and at that instant, it was as if he was seeing me for the first time.
“I guess… I’m hoping you can help me.”
“How about we move into my office?”
A beat later, Ferro nodded.
Wanting him to find a level of comfort, I avoided unnecessary words or actions as he made his way into the consultation room. He walked and sat in a nearby chair. He drew in a few deep breaths trying to get comfortable, but it felt like he could take flight at any moment—leaving the session altogether. “I’m not exactly sure where to begin.” “Why don’t you tell me how long you’ve had these attacks?” It seemed a good starting point.
“About two years.”
My eyes widened. “A long time.”
“Yeah,” Ferro replied.
“Any idea why they happen?”
“It’s –uh—it’s complicated.”
“Complications are my specialty.”
Ferro laughed and sat back a little further in his chair.
“Tell me about your work with Dr. Karne,” I asked, giving him another place to start. Dr. Paula Karne was a well-regarded psychologist who practiced cognitive behavior therapy in Great Neck.
“Saw her for a few months, y’know, trying to stop the anxiety.”
“What kinds of things did you work on?”
“Changing how I think, replacing bad habits with better ones. Stuff like that.”
Cognitive behavior therapy focuses on in-the-moment issues and how to change them to find greater well-being. Though I worked differently than Dr. Karne, my goal would be the same: to help the patient feel better.
Ferro cleared his throat and spoke again. “I wasn’t always totally honest with her, though.”
“How do you mean?”
“Didn’t exactly tell her what was really bothering me. Thought I’d just go there and learn how to control things. That’s all I really wanted anyway.”
“To control the panic on your own,” I said, reframing his thoughts.
“Yeah. But I know I gotta be more open. That’s why I decided to try again.”
“Being honest is important in therapy.”
Silence came down like a curtain, and we lingered in its folds for a while.
“Why do you think it was hard to be more open with Dr. Karne?” I asked him.
“Well, she doesn’t really work like that.”
“True,” I eased back in my seat. “She works just with the behaviors you have. She doesn’t get into the nitty gritty things like emotions, memories.”
Ferro nodded in agreement.
“Well, what’s honesty mean to you?” I asked when it was clear he wasn’t going to speak again.
“Showing all the cards, I guess. Talking about things I don’t wanna share.”
“And feeling things.”
Ferro nodded. “Makes me feel weak.”
“I really don’t like needing other people.”
“Dependency makes you feel weak?”
“Have there been times in the past where needing others wasn’t easy?” This was a gentle probe to move him deeper into his thoughts. Ferro said nothing, shutting down by looking away. Sensing I might be moving too quickly, I shifted my approach. “We can talk about those kinds of things at a later time.” “It’s hard to just open up to someone you meet.”
“I get that.”
Keeping track of time, I checked the clock on the end table where Ferro sat. The session was nearing its end. So much occurred and yet so little was done to obtain a formal clinical interview.
“We have just a few more minutes. How about scheduling another appointment?”
“Uh, okay,” he said, handing me the shapeless cup.
I took it from him, wondering why he hadn’t placed it in the trashcan himself.
“How about seeing me on Wednesday?”
“Twice a week?”
“Actually, I was thinking three times a week.”
Ferro glanced out the window and then raised his eyes to mine. As he did this, he shrugged his shoulders. “All right.” “We’ll look at why you’re feeling anxiety, explore your early childhood, your connections to others.” Ferro nodded. “Do you know much about Psychoanalysis?” “A little. Dr. Karne talked about it.” “We’re going to explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, but in a deeper way.” “The unconscious.” “Yes,” I said, pleased he was familiar with the term. “These techniques will help us kick your anxiety to the curb.” “I’d like that.” “How does seven o’clock work for you?” Ferro nodded. I picked up a pen and filled in the Wednesday, June 7th slot. Taking an appointment card from the holder on my desk, I completed his name, the time, and the date. His eyes seemed glued to my every movement. “Here you go,” I said as I held out the card. “We have to stop.” “That’s it, then?” “For now.” The arc of the session went from one extreme to the other. Lucas Ferro walked into my office at his worst and left seemingly in control. “See you Wednesday, Dr. Reese.” Ferro paused, looked at me, and extended his hand. Many classical analysts hold back from any form of touch in sessions. I was a modern analyst, and incidental touch wasn’t something taboo to me. “See you Wednesday,” I said and met his hand with my own. His grip was firm and tight.
Where did your inspiration come from for the book?
“The Ninth Session” was inspired by the Duty to Warn ethics that mental health professionals must abide by.
How do you think of ideas for books ?
I’m attracted to situations where doing the right thing isn’t always easy. I guess those kinds of conflicts bring out the best or worst in people, and I find that fascinating. That being said, my stories come from things I’ve experienced in the past. Or stories I see on the news or read about that tug at my heart.
Did you always want to be an author?
I know I always wanted to write, and did so from an early age.
Do you have a favorite author ?
I just love Nelson DeMille. But I read many books from many different authors and genres.
Are you anything like any of the characters in the book?
I think a little bit of me is in every character in the book.
How do you balance being a psychologist and a author?
I work part time in my practice, teach part time as a professor and write part time as an author. Finding time for all is somewhat easy for me. I know I’m lucky in that regard.
How long did the book take you to write ?
It took about 6 years for me to write this novel. And about 2 years to find a publishing house.
Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.
Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.
About the Book:
Title: WITCHES PROTECTION PROGRAM Author: Michael Okon Publisher: WordFire Press Pages: 200 Genre: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
Wes Rockville, a disgraced law-enforcement agent, gets one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he’s reassigned to a 232-year-old secret government organization. The Witches Protection Program.
His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar cosmetics company’s diabolical plan to use witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt’s evil deeds. Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in witches…and believe in himself. Filled with adventure and suspense, Michael Okon creates a rousing, tongue-in-cheek alternate reality where witches cast spells and wreak havoc in modern-day New York City.
“Witches Protection Program is a great summer choice, ideal for beach or poolside reading, and with elements of romance, action, crime, and fantasy, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.”—Foreword Reviews
“…mixes predictable elements–corporate intrigue, sexy witches, cat familiars, car chases, family secrets, and steampunk weaponry–into an enjoyable story.’—Publisher’s Weekly “Cleverly offbeat, often cheeky, and loads of fun.”—Kirkus
“WITCHES PROTECTION PROGRAM is a fun and quick read, and the out-of-the-norm narrative choices make the novel feel like something wonderfully subversive.” – IndieReader “Witches Protection Program is a unique gem, one that’s fast-paced with twists, action, and fun characters.” – Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers’ Favorite, Five Star Review “Witches Protection Program will hook you if not for the action, then the romance and if not for the romance, then the sheer humor, what with its funny dialogue.” – Liezl Ruiz, NetGalley Reviewer
The narrator filled in more information. “It wasn’t until this land became my land that the government decided to create an organization to protect women at risk. The Davina Doctrine went against everything that the Willas stood for. Even though they ran the risk of persecution, the Davinas chose to work with law enforcement to expose the evil deeds of the rival sisterhood. President George Washington established secret legislation under Title VI of the Control Act of 1792. The law was enacted to protect the good witches that exposed the evil deeds of their sisterhood.”
The screen went dark. There was only a chair in the center of a dimly lit stage. A single spotlight focused on the top of the blond actress’s head. Wes was right; it was the actress he’d suspected. She had a hit sitcom and two Emmys, and there was some recent Oscar talk about her last movie.
“Yes. There are witches. Living among us. They are women who believe in using their power to protect love and life. And then there are some who use their powers for all the wrong reasons.”
The camera came to rest on her beautiful face. She winked saucily as she placed a triangular witch’s hat on her head. “Welcome to the WitchesProtection Program.”