Challenge Participant


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Guest Post - Carole Matthews

Today I am host to Carole Matthews on her blog tour for her new release With Love at Christmas, a fantastic read by Matthew's which focuses on a topic which I am sure is a headache suffered in many households over the festive period, family gatherings! Carole has given a further insight into her thoughts on this subject and I am delighted to welcome her to my blog:

Keeping Everyone Happy at Christmas

Not everyone is as mad on Christmas as the heroine of my latest book, With Love at Christmas. Juliet Joyce is Christmas crazy and all she wants is for her family to be happy and to be around her for the festive holiday.
      But, as Juliet discovers, it’s just not that easy. I think it’s something that every woman will empathise with. We all knock ourselves out trying to hold everything together while whipping up the perfect Christmas for everyone.
      But it’s tricky, isn’t it? At Christmas emotions seem to be amplified and spending time hot-housed with family members who you might not normally see for such undiluted periods of time can certainly be challenging!
      It’s also difficult to accommodate changing roles and relationships in a family. Who goes where for Christmas is always a thorny issue. If you’re married with children of your own, do you insist on Christmas day at home or do you split your time between in-laws? It’s easier if everyone appreciates that the family has to evolve. Sometimes we get set into Christmas rituals that are really hard to break without upsetting someone.
      If parents have split, it’s a terrible time of year for carving up time with the children. The squabble about who gets the kids on Christmas day can go on all year round if you’re not careful!
      Just remember that it’s supposed to be a fun, relaxing time. No, really, it is! You can’t keep everyone happy, just accept that and you won’t get too frazzled. You can’t possibly cater for all generations and both young and old will probably appreciate some time on their own. Perhaps take the youngsters out for a bike ride while the grandparents have a snooze. Or give in and let the teens lock themselves away with the computer for an hour.
      Factor in some ‘me’ time before Christmas. Take five minutes to curl up with a book, a nice glass of something and some ‘Mum’s Only’ chocolate, so that you’re less stressed when the big day arrives.  There are some great Christmassy reads around to get you in the mood. Plus you must make sure that you read, With Love at Christmas, then whatever Christmas throws at your family, you can be safe in the knowledge that it won’t ever be as bad as the Joyces’! At least I hope not!

Thank you Carole for including me within your blog tour and I hope that your Christmas is a calm and relaxed occasion and that your book is in many people's stocking on Christmas day. With Love at Christmas is a fantastic read and I will be reviewing it on this blog very soon.

Monday, 19 November 2012

101+ things to do with glitter by Momtaz Begum-Hussain

101 Things to Do with Glitter
There is something magical about glitter. It reminds one of fairy dust or of disco balls, or of the dazzling dresses worn by film stars. Glitter comes in a rainbow of colours and types from the classic glitter well-loved by children to glittery fabrics to spray-on glitter and edible glitter! This book contains over 101 projects that you can create: shimmery fashion, glistening items for the home, shiny gifts and even twinkling food! Not only will you learn a little about how glitter is made and the many types of glitter, but the author also offers tips and techniques for using glitter - and cleaning it up! Projects created by the author and contributors from across the world will inspire readers to add their own touches and release that creative urge that lurks somewhere within us all. The projects range from t-shirts, shoes and tote-bags to lipgloss, bath salts and soaps, to chocolate truffles, glittery jam and iced biscuits and so many more. All, of course, using the right glitter for the job! A book for all ages.

I love crafting and you can always tell when I have been 'playing' as there is glitter everywhere! Therefore when I saw this book I knew it was one I needed.

The book is published by Vivays Publishers and having seen a number of Vivay's books I am really impressed with their style. The photographs play a big part within the book and they are often full page pictures which show the finished project at its best.

The book begins with a look at the nation's love affair with glitter through the ages, dating back to ancient Greece, Egypt and the Romans, through to the present day and a look into the future. It also includes an interesting look into what glitter actually is and how it is made and also the types of glitter available on the market today. The book lists 24 different types of glitter. There is a useful section entitled Glitter SOS which includes great advice on how to apply glitter and also how to tidy glitter away - one that I will be reading, digesting and utilising in the run up to the festive period and all those cards to make!

There is also a section entitled 'Capturing Inspiration' which would be perfect for any budding fashionistas or students, giving ideas about keeping a sketchbook for inspiration or samples as well as mood boards or virtual images. There is a double on basic materials in a craft stash and another on special materials.There are a number of master it! pages which break down, into easy, manageable steps which talk you through each stage of basic techniques which are used in many of the projects used later on in the book. These include techniques such as making your own glitter card and foam, using Angelina fibres, clay, applique, decoupage to name but a few.

The rest of the book includes many project ideas which are categorised into sections entitled: Fashion and Accessories; Homes and Interiors; Gifts and Food; and Card and Papercraft. The projects are accompanied by fantastic photographs which show them at their best. Each project has a list of 'ingredients' needed from Crafty Stash, along with the type of glitter suited best to the project. The project is split into easy step by step instructions which are simple to follow and comprehensible while also being complete, leaving nothing to 'guess'. There are top tips for ways to adapt the project using different or reclaimed materials, ways to decorate your home using the finished pieces or alternatives to the finished project shown. There is also a note on each page called 'Glitter 101+' which give additional help or guidance on a part of the technique. The book finishes off with lots of templates which are used in the projects in the book.

I really enjoyed looking through the book and I think that this book includes gift ideas for just about any occasion and anybody. There are ideas which the children could do, with some supervision, and make their own gifts for others. Other projects could be inspiration for crafty ideas to while away the long winter nights.  The book will make you look at anything you see in a different light - with a sparkle of glitter things can be turned from the dull and boring to the sparkly and fantastic!!

This would make a great gift for a crafter of any age - I am considering giving this to my daughter for Christmas, she is only 10 years old, but is a budding crafter and loves glitter. However, I would also feel able to buy this book for some of my friends as glitter is loved by (most) women!

I received this book from the publishers, Vivays Publishers, in return for an honest review.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Midwife's Here by Linda Farley

The Midwife's Here: The Enchanting True Story of One of Britain's Longest Serving Midwives
The Sunday Times bestseller 'Delivering my first baby is a memory that will stay with me forever. Just feeling the warmth of a newborn head in your hands, that new life, there's honestly nothing like it...I've since brought more than 2,200 babies into the world, and I still tingle with excitement every time.' It's the summer of 1968 and St Mary's Maternity Hospital in Manchester is a place from a bygone age. It is filled with starched white hats and full skirts, steaming laundries and milk kitchens, strict curfews and bellowed commands. It is a time of homebirths, swaddling and dangerous anaesthetics. It was this world that Linda Fairley entered as a trainee midwife aged just 19 years old. From the moment Linda delivered her first baby - racing across rain-splattered Manchester street on her trusty moped in the dead of night - Linda knew she'd found her vocation. 'The midwife's here!' they always exclaimed, joined in their joyful chorus by relieved husbands, mothers, grandmothers and whoever else had found themselves in close proximity to a woman about to give birth. Under the strict supervision of community midwife Mrs Tattershall, Linda's gruellingly long days were spent on overcrowded wards pinning Terry nappies, making up bottles and sterilizing bedpans - and above all helping women in need. Her life was a succession of emergencies, successes and tragedies: a never-ending chain of actions which made all the difference between life and death. There was Mrs Petty who gave birth in heartbreaking poverty; Mrs Drew who confided to Linda that the triplets she was carrying were not in fact her husband's; and Muriel Turner, whose dangerously premature baby boy survived - against all the odds. Forty years later Linda's passion for midwifery burns as bright as ever as she is now celebrated as one of Britain's longest-serving midwives, still holding the lives of mothers and children in her own two hands. Rich in period detail and told with a good dose of Manchester humour, The Midwife's Here! is the extraordinary, heartwarming tale of a truly inspiring woman.

I really enjoyed this book. There seems to have been an influx of midwife and nurse true stories into the market this year, and I for one, have enjoyed reading them all. This book is no exception. Linda Fairley starts on her nursing journey and through a number of events begins to doubt that nursing is for her, however an opportunity to work in the maternity department arrives and she has found her vocation in life!
The book has times of sadness, many times of happiness and also times of humour - especially when a young father gets upset when a male daughter examines his pregnant wife and Linda realises that he has no idea how this baby will be bought into the world!
This book is a great read for social historians as it charts the social history of young families but also the changes in maternity life - mums would give birth at home, the move to birthing in hospital, the discouragement to breast feed, husbands being shut out of the delivery room to name but a few.
I really enjoyed this book and I hope that Linda Fairley writes a second book to tell more about her midwife journey - this book finishes not long after she has qualified and I am sure she has plenty more stories to tell.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Horrid Henry Tricks and Treats by Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry Tricks and Treats - Horrid Henry Early Reader
Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your reading journey. It's Halloween. With a bag full of tricks and the best costume in town, Henry can't wait to go trick or treating. But, oh the shame! Surely Mum doesn't expect him to go out with Peter dressed as a fluffy pink bunny?

Another fantastic Early Reader book from Orion Kids and Francesca Simon. Horrid Henry Tricks and Treats is one of the stories from Horrid Henry and the Bogey Babysitter, and has been put into a format perfect for young children who are beginning to gain confidence in reading alone or reading 'proper' books (with chapters).

Horrid Henry is a firm favourite in my house, he is forever getting into mischief and is often compared to his brother, Perfect Peter. This is another fantastic story about Henry, written by Francesca Simon and contains the fantastic colourful illustrations by Tony Ross who can depict the mischief and chaos caused by Henry at any moment.

Although this book has a Hallowe'en theme, it is a story which can be enjoyed at anytime of the year and will be loved by children of all ages.

I received this book from the publishers, Orion Kids. Thank you to them for sending me the copy to review.

Beautiful: A Beautiful Girl. An Evil Man. One Inspiring True Story of Couragel by Katie Piper

Beautiful: A Beautiful Girl. An Evil Man. One Inspiring True Story of Courage
I heard a horrible screaming sound, like an animal being slaughtered ...then I realised it was me.' When Katie Piper was 24, her life was near perfect. Young and beautiful, she was well on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a model. But then she met Daniel Lynch on Facebook and her world quickly turned into a nightmare ...After being held captive and brutally raped by her new boyfriend, Katie was subjected to a vicious acid attack. Within seconds, this bright and bubbly girl could feel her looks and the life she loved melting away. Beautiful is the moving true story of how one young woman had her mind, body and spirit cruelly snatched from her and how she inspired millions with her fight to get them back.

I had never heard of Katie Piper when she was an up and coming model, however her life changed in 2008 when her boyfriend arranged for a vicious attack to be carried out and Katie had acid thrown in her face. She suffered horrific injuries however she battled through many operations and this book tells of her life before the attack and the road to recovery to begin to repair the damage from the horrific attack.

This book was a very true and frank account of Katie's experience and there are some parts which are very hard to read. At many points during the book, I found myself very close to tears but at many parts during the book I was amazed by the courage and bravery of Katie during her journey to recovery.

Writing this book must of bought back many difficult memories to Katie and I must commend her on the courage she showed throughout it.  The book starts at the beginning and tells of childhood and her entrance into the world of modelling before the attack. Following the attack was a lengthy stay in hospital and even now she is still in and out of hospital for operations, many of which are not for cosmetic reasons but for medical reasons.

This book is a great read and is  one which hard hitting and emotional but also very inspiring.  I think Katie is a real role model for people everywhere!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The 1980s Bumper Activity Book by Mel Elliott

1980s Bumper Activity Book: 52 Grown Up Projects That Look Back to the Future
The 1980s Bumper Activity Book is a brilliantly unique art and craft book for all those '80s-obsessed people in the world.And last time we checked there were absolutely millions of them! Stuffed to the gills with hugely quirky and fun things to do, the 1980s Bumper Activity Book contains easy peasy instructions to creating and making your own favourite art and design projects. Packed within its glorious technicolour pages are 52 awesome things to create, including: paper dolls of iconic 1980s celebrities; WHAM! glove puppets; funky ties and T-shirts; a 'Pong' duvet cover; 3D glasses ...and even how to bake your very own 'Pac Man' cake! So, don't be a dipstick, step back in time to the decade no one wants to forget with the best 1980s Bumper Activity Book in the world ...EVER! Word count: 15,000

A great gift idea for anyone who was a teenager growing up in the 1980's. Just flicking through the book was like a trip down memory lane, with pictures of Dusty Bin, PAC-Man, Super Mario Brothers, and Magnum PI.

There are 52 different activities to try included in this book which use many different media - cross stitch, paper dolls, Lego, colouring pictures and t shirt transfers.

There are some great ideas in this book and although it is based on the 1980s, and may not be something that will match current  trends,the techniques can be adapted to modern day trends. A great idea for a fun stocking filler this Christmas but not sure how many people will actually make the items included.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

The Fashion Resource Book, Research for design by Thames and Hudson

The Fashion Resource Book: Research for Design
Interviews with leading contemporary designers, including Paul Smith, Stephen Jones, and Maria Cornejo and education professionals, including Willie Walters, Course Director at Central St Martins, Andrew Groves from the University of Westminster and a Foreword by Shelley Fox, the Donna Karan Professor of Fashion, Director of the MFA Fashion Design and Society Program at Parsons, New York, will enable all readers both to understand the vital role of research and to discover the techniques the designers have adapted for themselves, while a richly illustrated profile of the major themes of fashion is both a highly original resource and a mine of information about each theme for readers to draw on in their own research.

As stated in Shelley Fox's foreword 'This invaluable book' and for any current or prospective fashion student, this book will make a great resource to have to hand.
The book starts at the very beginning - the research process as described by many of the world's fashion designers before looking into the inspiration of many different styles of clothing, including sportswear, uniforms and heritage. The third section of the book are filled with case studies of many designers. 

The book is filled with plenty of inspiration, lots of beautiful photographs and illustrations which encompass the history of fashion. It is a well researched and informatively written text which will suit fashion students of all ages.

It would make a great gift for fashion students but would be just as well received as a coffee table book to pick up and dip into at any time for inspiration or to loose yourself in.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine programme.