Father’s Day (21st June) is approaching quickly and I wanted to share some unique gift ideas from Prezzybox. They have a great range of gifts for all occasions including personalised Fathers Day gifts which are really affordable but still offer a deeply personal touch.
It’s always difficult to buy for men so these low cost gifts may inspire and help you choose the perfect gift.
With lockdown still in place we can’t just pop out to the shops but these items are all available to buy online.
We are all appreciating our families more and really missing loved ones.
It’s strange that at a time when we all really need a hug…..it’s the one thing we can’t have!
Hopefully we can all have a group hug very soon!
Prezzybox is based in the UK but delivers internationally.
In Katy’s opinion, weddings should follow some basic rules:
1) No-one should ever have sex. Of course. The married couple has the rest of their lives for that, and the guests should be too busy partying.
2) If you are heavily pregnant (as Katy is) you should obviously not be invited to three weddings in the space of one summer. Your husband’s accident-prone best friend, your attention-seeking colleague, your 73-year-old mother’s marriage to her Spanish toy boy – all without even an alcoholic drink to make them bearable.
3) During the speeches, it should not be revealed that you had a secret one-night-stand with one of the other guests.
4) Instead of laying bets on the length of the best man’s speech, guests should not be laying bets on whether a marriage will be in ruins before the end of the meal…
But this summer, Katy is lucky enough to be the special guest at the weddings that break ALL of the rules. What could possibly go wrong?
From the no. 1 bestselling author of No-one Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday, this book will make you laugh until you cry. Perfect for fans of Nick Spalding, Marian Keyes and Gill Sims.
I love this series by Tracy Bloom and No-one Ever Has Sex At A Wedding didn’t disappoint.
It starts at the wedding of Braindead (aka Craig) who is my favourite character from the series. He is intelligent, kind, funny and brutally honest. His speech (which he mainly dedicated to his best man Ben) was priceless and unfortunately for Ben’s wife Katy he accidentally let slip a huge secret. Something that Katy had hoped was buried very firmly in the past.
The book works fine as a stand-alone but I would recommend that you read the previous books because previous events are quite pivotal to this story. It is a lightweight, easy read with some really funny moments and a cast of characters who are hugely relatable. Some deeper issues are covered but on the whole this is a witty peek into the area of marriage, friendship and relationships.
If you love books about weddings you will love this one!
Thank you to Bookouture and the author for a copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.
Here is a link to my reviews of two of Tracy Blooms earlier books.
At a time when we are all looking for natural remedies for our dogs, I wanted to share some helpful advice about the therapeutic properties of Apple Cider Vinegar.
There is a lot of information available about Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and how it can help people. However, it is also a great item to keep in your store cupboard for your dog’s health too.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
It is made by adding yeast and bacteria to fermented apple juice which starts the process of turning the sugar into alcohol. During the second part of fermentation, the alcohol turns to acetic acid.
Why We Need To Use ORGANIC Apple Cider Vinegar.
There are different types of Apple Cider Vinegar, the distilled version is a clear liquid but there is also a cloudy version that has not been filtered.
This raw, organic version contains a substance called ‘the Mother’ or ‘the Mother Veil’ which are like cobwebs floating in the liquid. The natural protein, healthy bacteria, and acetic acid in ‘The Mother’ combine to produce a substance known for its healing qualities. Manufacturers state that the presence of the ‘cobwebs’ means that the best part of the apple has been preserved. Organic apple cider vinegar is light golden brown or orange in colour with a cloudy appearance.
If you buy Apple Cider Vinegar to use as a natural remedy for dogs or people always choose the organic (cloudy) version.
People have been using Apple Cider Vinegar for centuries as an aid to digestion, to calm skin irritations, and to make delicious salad dressings.
So, how can it help our dogs?
Apple Cider Vinegar For Dogs
1. To Relieve Skin Irritations
Does your dog constantly scratch, does he suffer from allergies or yeast infections?
If he or she does, the following method may be beneficial:-
Make a solution of half apple cider vinegar and half distilled water and use a spray bottle to administer to itchy spots. (Only do this if there are no open wounds.)
Calm downy itchiness by using diluted ACV as a last rinse after bathing your dog. Allow your dog to drip dry for the best results.
Additionally, you will notice that your dog has a beautifully conditioned, healthy, shiny coat.
This can also help with yeast infections on the dog’s paws.
2. As A Flea and Tick Repellant
Use the same 50/50 solution to spray your dog just before going on an outdoor walk.
The solution will not kill fleas but will deter them because they are repelled by the acidity of the dog’s skin.
As extra protection add a tablespoonful to drinking water once per day.
3. To Clean Ears
Regular ear cleaning can prevent ear infections and build-up of dirt and bacteria. This is especially important for dogs with long ears like Spaniels, Basset Hounds, and Beagles.
Dilute the apple cider vinegar (again 50/50) and gently swab the inside of the ear with a cotton wool pad. Squeeze the cotton wool pad to remove as much water as possible to avoid liquid going into the ear.
Don’t go too close to the inside of the ear and never use cotton buds which can push the wax back inside.
Take care not to cross-contaminate by using fresh swabs for each ear.
If you suspect an ear infection you must consult your vet.
As mentioned before, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in the dogs drinking water can act as a flea and tick repellant. It is believed that this also acts as an aid to the dog’s digestion. The acidic acid in the vinegar produces good bacteria and improves the ability to absorb nutrients from the dog’s food.
5. To Ease Sore Joints
Apple cider vinegar, taken internally helps to break down calcium deposits around joints and helps to ease discomfort from arthritis.
There is a low amount of clinical evidence to prove that ACV cures medical conditions in humans or dogs.
However, holistic veterinarians have been seeing results and recommending apple cider vinegar for decades.
It has been around for centuries, in fact, Cleopatra used apple cider vinegar to clean her flawless complexion.
The antibacterial and antiseptic properties in ACV can be hugely beneficial to our dog’s health. Therefore, I see it as a natural symptom reliever rather than a cure. It can prevent the use of harsh chemicals or steroids but only when it is used alongside conventional medicine and not as an alternative. It has been promoted as a ‘miracle cure’ for many pet health problems but I continue to view it as a helpful backup. I always have a bottle in my store cupboard and have used it to ease itching and to keep my dogs coat in good condition.
For minor ailments and preventative medicine, the results can be startlingly good and if used properly ACV cannot harm your dog because it is a 100% natural product.
Apple cider vinegar is widely available, inexpensive, and has a long shelf life.
Always buy organic apple cider vinegar.
Use diluted with water.
Don’t use on open wounds.
Avoid eyes and nose.
Always consult a vet if your dog is unwell or appears to be in pain.
Has anyone used Apple Cider Vinegar for dogs who have minor medical problems?
From the author of the #1 BESTSELLING The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay
All our favourite characters from Cockleberry Bay are back, including Hot, Rosa Smith’s adorable dachshund, and his new-born puppies.
Now successfully running the Cockleberry Café and wishing to start a family herself, Rosa feels the time is right to let her inherited corner shop go. However, her benefactor left one important legal proviso: that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.
Rosa is torn. How can she make such a huge decision? And will it be the right one? Once the news gets out, untrustworthy strangers appear in the Bay, their motives uncertain. With the revelation of more secrets from Rosa’s family heritage, a new series of unpredictable and life-changing events begins to unfold.
The Gift of Cockleberry Bay concludes this phenomenally successful series in typically brisk and bolshy style, and will delight Rosa’s many thousands of fans.
I have been a great fan of the Cockleberry Series from Nicola May since the first book was published. I love the excellent storytelling and stunning location but my absolute favourite part of the books is the main character Rosa who always has her loyal companion Hot the Dachshund by her side.
Rosa has overcome so much in her life. Underneath her streetwise and straight-talking exterior there is a heart of gold. She doesn’t suffer fools but will go the extra mile for anyone in need of help.
In The Gift of Cockleberry Bay, we meet up again with Rosa and all the other familiar characters. Rosa’s life has improved immeasurably since she arrived in Cockleberry Bay but she still has trials and tribulations which keep you guessing. Her main problem is who to choose to take over the little shop which she inherited from her grandfather. She comes up with an ingenious and charitable way to keep the shop going whilst she concentrates on the cafe and looks forward to starting a family. Unfortunately, some people will jump at the chance to take advantage and Rosa needs to use all her skills to work out who is genuine.
This is the last in the trilogy but I can see scope for another episode at least. The characters are so entertaining and it would be lovely to see what happens next in Cockleberry Bay.
Here are my reviews of the first two books in the series.
Thank you to Lightning Books for a copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.
About The Author
Award winning author Nicola May writes what she calls chick lit with a kick!
The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay held the #1 spot on Kindle Store for over a month in 2019 and was back up there again in 2020. The second and third books in the trilogy; Meet Me in Cockleberry Bay and The Gift of Cockleberry Bay are out now too.
The School Gates & Christmas Evie won awards for Best Author Published reads at the Festival of Romance in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Let Love Win was also nominated in 2013.
It Started with a Click (formally Love Me Tinder) was ebook of the week in The Sun newspaper.
Nicola likes watching films that involve a lot of swooning and eating cream teas.
1908, Manchester. Mary Maitland is an attractive and intelligent young woman determined to strike out on her own and earn a living. Finding work at a women’s employment agency, her creative talent is soon noticed and Mary begins writing articles for newspapers and magazines.
But being of independent and progressive mind are troublesome traits when those you hold dear must constantly live up to the expectations of the well-to-do family to which they are linked. With increasing pressures from the powers that be, can Mary find the fine line between honouring her family and honouring herself?
I am a great fan of Susanna Bavin’s writing and was excited to read The Poor Relation, a stunning historical fiction novel set in Manchester in 1908.
I was completely absorbed in the life of Mary Maitland who was born to a respectable, modest household but closely related to the extremely wealthy Kimber family. When she is continuously bypassed for promotion at work by male colleagues who she has personally trained, she knows she has to make changes. Mary is ambitious, intelligent, and strong-minded but she knows that she must not appear to be ‘above her station’ and cause embarrassment to her family. In addition, Mary has the influential and extremely snobbish Kimber side of the family, making her feel inferior at every opportunity.
I loved how strong Mary was to overcome all the obstacles against her in a time when women were totally overlooked. The treatment of women who wanted to stand up for their rights is portrayed clearly and Mary herself comes across prejudice and humiliation. There are secrets around every corner and the plot beautifully demonstrates the shocking divides of the rich and poor society.
I’ve read all of Susanna’s books and they are all equally absorbing, with fascinating characters and excellent storytelling. I look out for novels that feature strong women and this author excels at this with female characters who are ambitious but also tremendously kind-hearted.
Lovers of historical fiction will adore this story from an accomplished and talented author.
About The Author
Susanna Bavin lives on the beautiful North Wales coast with her husband and their two rescue cats. She is originally from Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester, where her family has lived for several generations and which provides the setting for her family sagas.
I recently shared an Author Spotlight about Susanna’s writing and all her novels, including The Surplus Girls which she wrote as Polly Heron.
When you have a reactive dog the danger of people, children or other dogs approaching is always a worry. So, under the present regulations, it’s actually less stressful to walk my anxious Dachshund.
Darcy is enjoying his walks much more and not consumed with stress about keeping me safe. There are less people around and the roads are quieter which helps him stay calm.
Previously, he didn’t want to walk too far from home and is much happier when he knows we are on our way back.
Darcy came to us five years ago, he was difficult to rehome because his fear aggression was so bad. As with all rescue dogs, there is limited background information, however, we could tell that he needed a stable, secure future.
Recently we found a companion for him in the hope that it would help with his insecurities. Little Ripley, is now Darcy’s sidekick. He follows him everywhere and Darcy seems to like having a BFF.
We chose a very confident puppy who would show Darcy that the world is not a scary place. So far, it seems to be working!
It’s so hard to rehabilitate a dog with severe anxiety and it has been very slow progress. There will always be problems that are too ingrained to change and we have learned to live with some aspects.
Spotting triggers and avoiding situations has become a part of everyday life with Darcy.
I have spoken to people who also have anxious dogs and picked up some helpful tips which will help all dogs, not just Dachshunds.
Here Are My Top Tips For Walking An Anxious Dog.
1. If you feel stressed whilst walking with your dog he will feel the tension through the lead, so it is important that you do everything you can to relax.
2. It is well known that a well-exercised dog is less likely to show unprovoked aggression. So by establishing a regular walking routine, the dog should start to act in a much more relaxed manner. Remember that exercise is not just great for physical fitness, but also mental health too. Walking an anxious dog will also cut down on destructive behaviour and separation anxiety.
3. Another suggestion is that the dog could wear a coat, bandana, or lead which signifies that he is a nervous dog or one that needs his space. Strangers can instantly see that the dog should not be approached by the distinctive yellow colour. These have been around for a while now and I have noticed that many dog walkers recognise the significance of the yellow bandana and will avoid close contact which really helps whilst out walking.
4. If you are worried that your dog may become aggressive, a muzzle can be helpful. I was concerned that Darcy would lose sensory enjoyment when wearing a muzzle, however, I was reassured that there are types which don’t hinder the dog’s ability to smell or bark. Someone is a lot less likely to approach a dog wearing a muzzle, so just the sight of one should act as a deterrent.
5. A Thundershirt is a coat that is attached firmly around the dog’s torso in a very similar way to swaddling a baby. The theory is that the tightly secured coat makes the dog feel safe. I bought one for Darcy and he is always happy for me to put it on him.
6. A few drops of Rescue Remedy in the dogs drinking water can reduce anxiety and allow the dog to get more enjoyment from his daily walk.
There is loads of information on this blog about how anxiety can affect dogs and tips that have helped along the way.
This blog is now three years old and we have followed Darcy’s progress along the way. Holly my chihuahua mix is in her eighteenth year, she has recently become quite deaf but is still loving life. Having a puppy is hard work but we made the right decision to add another dog at this time.
Times are hard at the moment, we have had to make sacrifices, but the dogs are always there to make me smile.
I hope you are enjoying spending time with your dogs too.
‘SO CHARMING, SO SWEET AND SO LOVELY’ MARIAN KEYES
Leena is too young to feel stuck. Eileen is too old to start over. Maybe it’s time for The Switch…
Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and L Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.
But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?
I’ve heard so many good things about The Switch so I was excited to read it and completely agree that this is an amazing book.
The dual narrative is shared between Eileen and her granddaughter Leena. Although they are decades apart age-wise and living in different parts of the country, both find themselves at difficult times in their lives. Leena is forced to take two months paid leave from her high flying position in the city and Eileen suddenly finds herself single for the first time in her life.
Leena comes up with a plan that for two months only, they should completely swap lives. She travels to Hamleigh-In-Harksdale to take over Eileen’s projects including the Neighbourhood Watch (in a village with no crime), dog walking duties, and running community projects. This gives Eileen the opportunity to join the dating game, with plenty of over seventies gentleman to choose from, and a chance to explore the big city of London.
It’s the characters that make this such an entertaining read. I loved how they all interacted with each other, the versatility of both Elaine and Leena in their different roles, and how they both grow throughout the story. The bond between them is enchanting and the parallels obvious. They both share incredible heartache but a mutual zest for life is also beautifully portrayed.
I loved the humour, the sense of adventure, and how the story portrays that age is just a number. This is perfectly demonstrated by seventy-nine-year-old Elaine, who is meddlesome, assertive but totally loveable. The story is overflowing with eccentric characters, unexpected romance, and heartwarming moments.
I really enjoyed The Switch and will now be seeking out Beth O’Leary’s future novels and The Flat Share which was published in 2019.
Thank you to Quercus Books via NetGalley for a copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.
Today I am overjoyed to be joining the blog tour for My Lies, Your Lies by Susan Lewis.
Please take a look at the blog tour schedule below and stop by to see what other book blogger’s reactions are to this amazing new publication.
Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours and to Harper Fiction for a copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.
About The Book
His life was destroyed by a lie.
Her life will be ruined by the truth.
Joely tells other people’s secrets for a living. As a ghost writer, she’s used to scandal – but this just might be her strangest assignment yet. Freda has never told her story to anyone before. But now she’s ready to set the record straight and to right a wrong that’s haunted her for forty years. Freda’s memoir begins with a 15-year-old girl falling madly in love with her teacher. As the story unravels, Joely is spun deeper into a world of secrets and lies.
Somehow, there doesn’t seem like there are the correct words to do it justice.
I feel like saying “Don’t listen to what I have to say, just read the book, then we can talk about it….for hours and hours.”
However, I need to say just a few things.
I visited the North Devon location many times and sat on the little water-powered carriage which transports you between Lynton and Lynmouth. It’s the perfect location for the imposing Dimmett House, the home of Freda Donahoe an unpredictable and reclusive author.
When Joely goes there to help Freda write her memoir she is at a crossroads in her personal life and sees the trip to North Devon as a very welcome distraction. She finds Freda difficult to read, sometimes aloof, brash, and erratic. Joely’s ghostwriting comes under great scrutiny from the accomplished author but the unfolding love story between a fifteen-year-old girl and her music teacher is utterly compelling.
When the memoir takes a very sudden and dark turn Joely realises that this is far more than a teenage fantasy.
This dual timeline narrative has a secret revealed around every corner. The captivating storytelling delves through aspects of grief, betrayal, loneliness, and revenge. The ‘story within a story’ element was so cleverly plotted and I enjoyed the references to the 1960s music. The book highlights that we should never assume or second guess because what seems obvious to some may have a totally different meaning to others. We learn that decades can be wasted harbouring heartbreak and hatred and that the simplest sentence spoken can have a catastrophic effect on people’s lives.
I will always remember this book, especially next time I use the Victorian cliff railway and wander along the South West Coastal Path.
I’m already looking forward to reading it again!
Author Susan Lewis at her Bagington home
Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime, including the Sunday Times bestseller One Minute Later and her most recent novel Home Truths. Susan’s novels have sold nearly three million copies in the UK alone. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s. Susan has previously worked as a secretary in news and current affairs before training as a production assistant working on light entertainment and drama. She’s had homes in Hollywood and the South of France, but now lives in Gloucestershire with husband James, two stepsons and dogs
I don’t know how but this author has completely passed me by, until now.
This book has everything I love….a heartbroken bookworm trying to escape her feelings in a camper van turned bookshop, a mysterious author, a stunning location and a bunch of quirky and kind hearted nomadic friends!
I loved how Aria spoke of her love for books and how she read avidly into the small hours with the characters coming completely alive in her imagination.
It’s obvious from the start that Aria is desperately running from her past and escaping into an imaginary world. I’m so glad that she had best friend Rosie and her partner Max by her side, patiently guiding her into the next step of her life.
The trio travel through France with other ‘van lifers’ stopping off at various fetes and fairs along the way. They keep bumping into author Jonathon at book events and Aria can’t help but feel a strong connection towards him. She reads chapters from a diary written by her late husband TJ and gains the strength she needs to open her heart again.
This is truly heart warming, written with great love and warmth. There’s a strong theme of forgiveness, friendship and new beginnings. The plot just carries you along and Aria and Rosie become like the friends you always wished you had. The descriptions of France in the summer just transport you there and the story gives you a feeling that good things will return.
For bookworms, hopeless romantics or anyone who loves a heartwarming, uplifting read.
Thank you HQ Digital for a copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.
Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is focusing on writing romance.
Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love.
Willow has been living with marriage-shy Charlie for more years than she cares to remember and is old-fashioned enough to want a wedding band and a loads-of-sex honeymoon before stretchmarks and nipple shields.
So when the once-wary Charlie surprisingly goes down on one knee, Willow doesn’t question why her boyfriend is suddenly so keen to rush her into saying “I do”.
The first clue comes as Willow is zipped into her Cinderella dress, the second as she bobs into the wedding car, and the third as the Roller swings towards its fairy-tale destination… leaving a shell-shocked Willow desperately trying to figure out what to do next.
A bride can do anything she wants on her wedding day, but nobody expected her to do this…
My Thoughts on Willow’s Wedding Vows
Today I’m happy to be taking part in the blog tour for Willow’s Wedding Vows by Debbie Viggiano. Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the tour invite and copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.
Main character Willow has been in a relationship with Charlie for nine years. All she wants is for Charlie to propose and whisk her down the aisle in a cloud of white taffeta. However Charlie is far from ‘settling down’, he is sowing his wild oats right under Willow’s nose, and she is too in love with him to see it.
This is a light-hearted story but actually deals with some serious issues. Everyone around Willow seems to have commitment and loyalty issues, yet she is a sweet girl who always sees the best in people. Surely she could see that Charlie didn’t have a decent bone in his whole body?
Debbie Viggiano always delivers plenty of saucy humour in her novels and I chuckled at some of Willow’s wicked thoughts, which were a contrast to her sweet real-life persona. I was always hoping that Willow would get her happy ending, but not the one she was hoping for!
Prior to turning her attention to writing, Debbie Viggiano was, for more years than she cares to remember, a legal secretary. She lives with her Italian husband, a rescued pooch from Crete, and a very grumpy cat. Occasionally her adult children return home bringing her much joy… apart from when they want to raid the fridge or eat her secret stash of chocolate. Tweet @DebbieViggiano or follow her on Facebook!